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Orissa seeks views of legal experts on Posco, Vedanta

Orissa seeks views of legal experts on Posco, Vedanta

Bhubaneswar: Unable to implement big investment proposals such as that of Vedanta’s mining project and Posco’s steel plant, Orissa government is now seeking opinion of legal luminaries to nullify the opposition’s bid.

“The secretary of steel and mines department had went to Delhi recently to seek legal opinions of eminent lawyers on how to face legal hurdles put in the way of implementation of certain projects in the state," state steel and mines minister Raghunath Mohanty said.

He, however, did not divulge name of the senior lawyers, who were consulted on the matter.

Mohanty was referring to recent “orders" from the union ministry of environment and forest (MoEF), which rejected mining proposal of Vedanta in Kalahandi district and stopped work at the proposed plant site of Posco near Paradip.

The state government has already decided to challenge the Orissa HC’s 14 July judgement that set aside recommendation of Posco-India’s name for prospecting license (PL) over Khandadhar iron ore reserve.

“We will file a special leave petition (SLP) in the Supreme Court (SC) to challenge the HC’s judgement on Khandadhar iron reserve issue soon," steel and mines secretary Manoj Ahuja said.

Apart from this, the state government is also serious about the MoEF’s rejection of a bauxite mining proposal atop Niyamgiri hills.

“The state government has already sought opinion of the advocate general (AG) regarding MoEF’s withdrawal of stage-II clearance to the bauxite mining plan in Kalahandi district," said chief secretary B K Patnaik.

“Though the Supreme Court had allowed grant of Stage-I clearance to the mining project, the MoEF, citing the Saxena Committee report, withdrew Stage-II clearance," pointed out an official.

As the SC had a say about the bauxite mining plan at Niyamgiri hills earlier, it would be wiser to draw its attention after MoEF withdrew stage-II clearance, he said.

“We will take opinion of other legal experts after the state advocate general gives his remark on the validity of the state government’s stand on the issue," the official said.

With the Centre, mostly the MoEF, halting two big ticket investments (South Korean Posco’s Rs51,000 cr and UK-based Vedanta’s Rs5,000 cr) on environment protection, forest conservation and forest rights acts, the state government finds itself at the receiving end.

“We have to consult law books before taking any further step," said a senior bureaucrat.

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